So we are now past the halfway point of the season. We have a strong enough sample size to start making some judgments. What is the story so far for all 20 Premier League clubs?
Who can look forward to 2020 with a spring in their step, and who needs dramatic improvement to salvage something from a wreckage of a season so far?
1. LIVERPOOL W19 D1 L0, 58 points.
This first half and festive period could not have gone much better for the Merseysiders. They are well on their way to win their first league title in 30 years. So far only two league points have been dropped from 20 games, and that was 1-1 draw away to arch rivals Manchester United.
The front three have again been exceptional, with Sadio Mane in great form. They have displayed the title mettle, never looking as though they are beaten.
The only downside is that defensively Jurgen Klopp’s men have not been quite as solid as last season, conceding 14 goals compared to the 22 for the whole of 2018/19. However, since Alisson’s return, they have been keeping clean sheets again.
2. LEICESTER CITY W14 D3 L4, 45 points.
What a season so far for the Foxes, as Brendan Rodgers has transformed the club since his arrival in February last year.
Jamie Vardy is in great form with a prolific 17 goals in 19 games. James Maddison has further improved from last season, as he has become one of the best creative players in the Premier League.
Harry Maguire has not been missed after his £80 million move to Manchester United. Cagler Soyuncu has stepped to form a solid central defensive partnership with Jonny Evans.
There are question marks over the depth of Leicester’s squad, but Rodgers made nine changes for the recent 2-1 victory away at West Ham. A top four Champions League place is highly likely.
3. MANCHESTER CITY W14 D2 L5, 44 points.
City’s title challenge has hardly gone to plan, with defensive vulnerabilities often being exposed, leaving a different air about the team this season.
The champions have lost five games so far, already one more than the whole of last season. They have also conceded one more goal than in 2018/19.
Not replacing Vincent Kompany, plus a collection of centre-back injuries has derailed the champions’ defence of the title.
More positively, City are still the highest scorers in the league, with Kevin De Bruyne now looking like the best midfielder in England.
4. CHELSEA W11 D3 L7, 36 points.
Frank Lampard would have taken being in a Champions League qualifying fourth place at this stage of the season back in August.
The transfer ban, which has now been lifted, perhaps did Lampard a favour as he successfully integrated the youth of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson Odoi, Christian Pulisic and Fiyako Tomori into the team.
Chelsea were in full flow in early Autumn winning six games in a row, scoring heavily away from Stamford Bridge, including a 5-2 win at Wolves.
Yet the wheels have come off Chelsea’s form in the past few weeks, with five defeats in the last nine matches, despite victories at Tottenham and Arsenal.
Lampard can now strengthen in this transfer window, and will probably look at a left-back. Emerson and Marcos Alonso have struggled to make the position their own.
5. MANCHESTER UNITED W8 D7 L6, 31 points.
A case of one step forward and two steps back for United, as Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s team struggles for consistency.
Far too often United have looked bereft of creative ideas, especially away from home. This has led to disappointing defeats at West Ham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Watford.
Harry Maguire has had a satisfactory start to his United career. He will need time to develop his leadership skills at the club that Solksjaer brought him in for.
On the plus side, the front three of Rashford, Martial and James has looked very potent on occasions.
The main problem lies in the number ten position. Will Paul Pogba stay and step up to be United’s consistent creative force, or will someone else be signed?
6. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR W8 D6 L7, 30 points.
Only six months after reaching the club’s first ever European Cup or Champions League final, who would have thought that Mauricio Pochettino would be replaced as manager? Time will tell how wise it was to sack the Argentinean for Jose Mourinho.
Tottenham’s form has been as inconsistent as eight wins, six draws and seven defeats so far would suggest.
Sorting out the futures of Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen will be a priority, alongside reinforcements in the full back positions. Losing Harry Kane for the next few months will also be a big blow.
7. WOLVES W7 D9 L5, 30 points.
Wolves have recovered well after losing three and drawing three in opening six games, including home and away wins over champions Manchester City.
Raul Jimenez has again been in great form scoring eight times, and providing six assists. Adama Traore has also impressed, with the usual contributions from Joao Moutinho and Matt Doherty.
Nuno Espirito Santo continues to make his team good to watch. However, he will need to get the best out of his squad with a Europa League tie against Espanyol to come.
Wolves have an outside bet for a top four domestic finish.
8. SHEFFIELD UNITED W7 D8 L6, 29 points.
The Blades have exceeded all expectations with a fantastic start to life in the Premier League.
Manager Chris Wilder can take great credit for the season so far. Especially considering he spent a relative pittance of just under £43 million last summer, with forward Oliver McBurnie the biggest outlay after a £17 million move from Swansea.
So far the Yorkshire side have displayed huge amounts of energy and industry in their play.
9. CRYSTAL PALACE W7 D7 L7, 28 points.
A satisfactory first half to the season, and so far have avoided any serious thoughts of relegation which has dogged them in recent years.
Once again scoring goals has been a problem for the Eagles. They have not been great to watch, hitting the back of the net just 19 times. Only Watford have scored fewer in the Premier League.
Hanging onto Wilfried Zaha will be imperative. They must strengthen their attack to boost the goal tally.
Michy Batshuayi and Cenk Tosun have been linked in loan deals from Chelsea and Everton respectively.
10. ARSENAL W6 D9 L6, 27 points.
Unai Emery’s reign at the Emirates finally came to an end in November. The Gunners are seven points off the relegation zone, and 31 points off the top,which tells its own story. Mikel Arteta has a lot of work to do in order to get the club back on track.
The powerful performance in the 2-0 victory over Manchester United on New Year’s Day was encouraging.
Pepe is finally showing the sort of form that persuaded the club to part with £72 million for his services. Yet Arsenal are very poor defensively, and will need to recruit centre backs in particular to become more difficult to beat.
11. EVERTON W7 D4 L10, 25 points
The fact that full strength side was beaten by a youthful Liverpool at Anfield in the FA Cup highlights just what a job Carlo Ancelotti has on his hands.
He will have to restructure a squad that has been punctured by many poor recent signings, such as Cenk Tosun and Morgan Schneiderlin.
Defensively Everton have also been poor, shipping 32 goals, the highest total in the top half of the table.
12. SOUTHAMPTON W7 D4 L10, 25 points.
The Saints have recovered from that embarrassing 9-0 defeat at home to Leicester, with five wins in their last eight matches.
Crucially three of those victories came against fellow relegation strugglers Norwich and Watford at home, and Aston Villa away.
Striker Danny Ings is in great form, with nine goals in his last nine Premier League starts.
Ralph Hasenhuttl, who was rocked by his assistant Danny Rohl’s departure to Bayern Munich at the beginning of the season, can now feel start to feel confident of staying in the Premier League.
13. NEWCASTLE UNITED W7 D4 L10, 25 points.
Newcastle have endured an awful Christmas period losing all three games. However, their injury problems now look to be easing with six players returning to training. Club captain Jamaal Lascelles is set also set to return to training after fracturing his tibia in November.
Goals have been hard to come by, as club record signing Joelinton has struggled scoring just once so far.
Overall, Steve Bruce can be satisfied after a poor start to the season. And has silenced some of the critics of his appointment after Rafa Benitez’s departure to China.
14. BRIGHTON W6 D6 L9, 24 points.
Graham Potter has rejuvenated the Seagulls’ style of play to become a far more entertaining team than the more pragmatic approach of former boss Chris Hughton.
Neal Maupay has repaid the faith that Potter showed him, with seven goals following his £19.8 million move from Brentford last summer.
Yet relegation still remains a possibility, and Brighton may have to pull off big results such as the 2-1 win at Arsenal last month to stay up.
15. BURNLEY W7 D3 L11, 24 points.
Burnley have been as dogged in style as you would expect. However, they have suffered an alarming drop in form in recent weeks, losing six out of the last eight games. After beating Watford away in the last week of November, Sean Dyche’s team had climbed up to seventh.
Staying up for the fourth consecutive season would be an outstanding achievement for The Clarets. More so when considering the resources available. The highest transfer fee last summer was a relatively modest £5 million for striker Jay Rodriguez.
16. WEST HAM UNITED W6 D4 L10, 22 points.
After an outlay of £157 million over the past 18 months, including a club record £36 million on striker Sebastien Haller, West Ham fans have every right to be disappointed with this season so far. So were the Hammers’ hierarchy, who called time on Manuel Pellegrini and reappointed David Moyes.
Like last season, inconsistency has again been the biggest problem. You can never be sure which West Ham will turn up.
They will now be hoping an old hand like Moyes will make use of the undoubted talents which are available in the squad.
17. ASTON VILLA W6 D3 L12, 21 points.
Villa spent £133 million in the close season following promotion, and will hardly be happy hovering over the relegation zone.
So far they give too many chances away, reflected in their 37 goals conceded, the second worst record in the league.
The form of captain Jack Grealish has been the most positive aspect of this season. The 24-year-old is beginning to fulfill his potential.
18. BOURNEMOUTH W5 D5 L11, 20 points.
After beating Manchester United on November 2nd, The Cherries rose to seventh, and things were looking good. The south coast club have plummeted since, losing eight from the last ten games, taking just four points.
Manager Eddie Howe has had to cope with a lengthy injury list. This has included the central defensive duo of Steve Cook and Nathan Ake, plus top scorer Callum Wilson.
A full strength team should still ensure survival.
19. WATFORD W4 D7 L10, 19 points.
Nigel Pearson’s appointment may prove a masterstroke, having won three of their last four matches to lift themselves off the bottom.
Watford certainly have enough quality to stay up, and are arguably in a false position.
Only time will tell if Pearson can turn his good start into a sustained run of form.
20. NORWICH CITY W3 D5 L13, 14 points.
Norwich must be applauded for playing some great football this season. Memorably, they beat champions Manchester City 3-2 back in September in some style.
Teemu Pukki has been in great form with nine goals in a struggling team. Todd Cantwell has also caught the eye, and is rumoured to have attracted interest from both Manchester clubs and Tottenham.
The Canaries have suffered injuries in defensive positions, but that does not mask how poor they have been at the back, conceding 41 goals.
Almost certainties for relegation.